Let me say this right up front. I hate Christmas. I’m a believer, not an atheist, but it is difficult to like something that has been so unpleasant for me. Sure, I’ve gotten some great presents for Christmas like the German shorthaired pointer I received at age six, or the catcher’s mitt I received the next year, but Christmas has simply been an ugly time of the year for me.

I was a mere six months old when my first Christmas arrived. The tradition in my dad’s family was to go to grandma Roese’s house for Christmas dinner. All the relatives would congregate at grandma and grandpas to open presents and enjoy her home-cooked dinner. Then we would all sit around their front room and catch-up on the happening and gossip.

On my first Christmas, I would be one of the pieces of gossip that would actually be passed around the room to be cuddled and examined. Mother Nature dropped a six-inch blanket of cold white crystals on Springfield that Christmas eve, so we left early to get to grandmas. Mother had read in the paper that friends of theirs had lost their house to fire that previous evening. Since we were running early dad asked mom if she wanted to drive by to see if they needed anything. So instead of turning off Taylor Avenue onto Cornell he went straight. As he neared the train tracks on Taylor, the car started to slide on the fresh now. “Now would be a great time for a train to be coming”, he joked. The blare of a train horn filled the air as car met train and an exciting ride ensued.